Sydney’s Charlie Horse have just finished their first album ‘I Hope I’m Not A Monster’. In all the hype and excitement of it all, we caught up with them to learn more about how casually playing Bon Iver covers led to a shiny new album.
Kicking us off, who are Charlie Horse? What sequence of events led you to end up playing in a band together?
Charlie Horse are primarily Crystal Rose and Paul McDonald who are joined live by Craig Beck on bass, pcarro on guitar at Matt Black on drums. Crystal and I met one New Years day both nursing hangovers at the London Hotel in Balmain, she stepped on my dog Jack at the bar. We got to talking and decided to play some music after both going to see Ryan Adams on the Cardinology tour. We initially just wanted to play some Lucinda Williams and Bon Iver covers at our friend’s cafe and now we have a record out and are heading out on tour, strange world indeed!
What is the story behind the name ‘Charlie Horse? Did you ever consider some alternative names, or did you just know Charlie Horse was the one?
Charlie Horse is a mixture of Band of Horses and Crazy Horse …all the horses really, All the Pretty Horses even. It doesn’t mean anything literal, it is more about the image it conjures up. It is in no way anything to do with a cramp as the Americans use the term, it might have connotations with various drugs but drugs are bad…..aren’t they kids. What’s a Died Pretty what’s a Rolling Stone….we did not consider any other names, this one found us.
I imagine Charlie Horse wasn’t your first music project. What other bands did you play in?
Crystal has played in various Blues and Rockabilly style bands like Dirty Lindy. I have played with Craig in a band called Luxury that had their 10 minutes of fame, 5 minutes less than we were promised. I also played guitar in some 90′s bands such as Glide, google that one, they have tried to excise me from their history so I end up on the internet cutting-room floor for that band but a few photos have slipped through the gates. We had some issue, we had some dramas, we did albums, singles EP’s, the Big Day Out which was my last show in glorious style.
Say somebody stumbles across you guys playing a live set. How are they going to describe your sound to their mates. What other comments might they make?
Probably four ugly blokes with a hot chick out the front…haha. We have been told it is like Lucinda Williams jamming with the Pretenders but that might be a bit fanciful. Maybe like “I saw this band the other night, it was like PJ Harvey singing for Crazy Horse…maaan they were loud!”
What do your record collections look like? Which bands have had the biggest influence on your sound?
I buy about an album a week, I am still hoping I will stumble onto my next greatest passion. I have found the National and the vastly brilliant Jack Ladder this way. I have thousands of albums, literally. Crystal is more of a blues and ’70′s fan, Black Sabbath, the Stones, the Animals, Billie Holliday etc. I would say that Ryan Adams, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and Crazy Horse definitely influenced the first album, that is obvious to me at times. The new songs we are writing are a lot more rock, we are breaking out the Shihad, 70′s Spingsteen and more Nick Cave/Jack Ladder for this one….yes Shihad.
Who is the main drive of inspiration behind your songs? Is there one experience you always draw on, or do you try and mix it up?
I don’t know where these songs come from but they often just fall into my head or lap, sometimes it is a phrase or melody and sometimes complete songs. The inspiration tends to come from the mood of our cabin/house/studio in the mountains and often they get twisted through whatever book or movie I am watching at the time. I invent these stories and then put Crystal in them, they are part truth and part truth that hasn’t happened yet.
Is there are method to the way you write new music? Is it a dynamic duo effort, or does one of you provide the creative spark?
I write the music and co-write with Crystal most of the lyrics. For the first album I played all the instruments and produced, Crystal did the artwork and web stuff too, we are a real cottage industry. The newer material will involve the live band in parts, especially the drums, Matt our drummer is a powerhouse that I want to capture with this new record. The songs tend to come to me at weird times, so I keep my Iphone nearby. I could probably release a whole album of the very first ideas I had recorded into my phone, except that would be very embarrassing as they sound like some deranged drunk hobo yelling into a phone and playing an out of tune guitar out of time. Red wine is often involved I have to admit.
You just released your ‘I Hope I’m Not a Monster’ album, is there one song that really stands out for you and why does it?
For me it is ‘Am I Not Your Baby No More’, probably because it is quite different and not really very alt. country at all. It doesn’t really have any guitars on it, just that bass line and Phil Spector drum kit. I like it a lot but it is a real bitch to play live because of the odd timing and structure. I also think Crystal nailed the vocal with equal parts desperation and crazy. I really like Southern Voices too for the lyrics and guitar solo….hah
What are your plans for little time that remains in 2012 and what does 2013 hold for Charlie Horse?
We have the tour of the Eastern states for the Dead Roses single then hopefully we are planning to head out again in the New Year, if I have my way it will be in support of Am I Not Your Baby No More or even Southern Voices but I will probably get voted down. We will be aiming to finish off the new album and have it out for the latter half of 2013 with a wider tour in support, we would love to do the other major cities too, and OS would be fantastic if some kind soul wants to send us the air fare!